Language and the Internet

(Axel Boer) #1


range, from the succinct (Daydreamer smiles) to the extended (Zed
goes off to @recycle his one room in Classic in token protest. He didn’t
than one sentence in the last example is noteworthy, illustrating just
how relaxed the emote construction can become. Indeed, looseness
of construction is common, as speakers lose control of their point
of view. In the following example, from ‘Classic Fiasco’, the player
switches from 3rd person to 1st person in the same message:

Mizue points out that the people on two sides of the
Bruce-bashing are doing things which affect others, too. Maybe
you aren’tobligedto keep your stuff around, but I’d suggest it’s at
least impolite to just zap it to satisfy an opposition to Bruce4 when
the users of theMud are also affected.

Probably the longer the message, the more serious the subject-
matter, and the more emotionally involved the player, the less
care and attention will be paid to maintaining the expressive con-
ventions. These factors of course vary greatly between and within
There are some signs of a general concern over economy. For ex-
ample, function words are frequently omitted – prepositions (Jon
waves Sandy), copulas (Mike happy), auxiliary verbs (Rick getting
there), and sometimes function-word sequences, giving the utter-
ance a pidgin-like character (Penfold bad mood).Thereismore
to deletion than simply achieving a faster typing speed, however.
Omissions of this kind are probably better viewed as dialect fea-
tures which have grown up as the result of the intense pressure to
accommodate between group members (p. 147). Economy of typ-
ing is not the whole story, as is easily illustrated from the structure
of emotes, which often use quite comple xe xpression, and from
such examples asonna[‘on a’] andatta[‘at a’], which actually use
an extra letter keystroke. On the other hand, anything which does
speed up typing is going to be appreciated – if only to reduce the
risk of repetitive strain injury.^24 An example is thes/ convention

(^24) An interesting development is the use by some players of what has been called ‘Carpal
Tunnel Syndrome Feature Objects’ – shorthand verbs which replace very common but
lengthy expressions, to cut down on typing.

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